So Sam Ash is having a Fathers Day special: 0% interest on all purchases of $299 or more on specific (but a ton of) brands for 36 months. 3 years. No interest. Nada.
So I’ve been toying with the idea of finally buying a Les Paul, but have hesitated because certain friends who happen to be either musicians or pro-techs (also musicians, of course) have stated extreme prejudice against the current lineup of guitars from Gibson.
I’m not trying to spend a ton of money. I want a mid-range Les Paul (think ~$1,000) so that I can get the really heavy sound that I sometimes need that the PRS can’t deliver. (Hey, there’s a reason why Alex Lifeson switched back from PRS to Gibson.)
What does the community here think? Are they really crap now (given the price points)? Should I scour the used gear places for something pre-2010? Should I stop spending money and become a monk? HALP!
My recommendation is don’t buy a new ~ $1,000 Gibson. Better to save your money until you can afford a good used one of decent pedigree, or even better a used Reissue model (you’ll see aficionado’s use terminology “RI” and usually a year, so now when you see it, you’ll know what they’re on about). Also, most of the 2015 models have those atrocious robot tuner crapola on them. Totally unacceptable!
My personal opinion: I would (and do) buy many things on-line sight-un-seen.
And to my ears there is nothing like the sound of a ‘chunky’ Les Paul. That sound turns me on BIG TIME!
But I would never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never
buy any guitar that way.
I would first have to play it/feel it/smell it/taste it/sleep with it etc etc.
That being said; if the return policy is up to snuff (they pay for all shipping and handling etc) I might give it a go.
Your subject line asked why?
If the latest round of Gibsons are starting to be/sound like/play like crap, I would blame it on the fact that the earth is starting to run out of good ‘musical’ wood for all wooden instrument making. Not just guitars.
I agree with swamp tone:
Better to save your money until you can afford a good used one of decent pedigree
That way you most likely get better sounding wood and a better sounding ax.
Hopefully you can go to a local music store (like Guitar Center) and try the guitar out. My recommendation is to play the Gibson of your choice and then try out a same/similar Epiphone model. IMO there is not much difference in the sound. I hate to admit it but I actually like the quality and sound of the Epi better and what I purchased for less than $500 would have cost almost $3k if Gibson. Sad really… oh well.
Of course, if you have the “wanting a Gibson” bug and can’t get past that (i know that feeling well) then just choose the best sounding one you can find in the store. Have your smart phone with you and check online for the best price you can find (usually at Musician’s Friend) and show it to GC. They will match or beat the price (can’t remember right now).
Sam Ash is a brick and mortar store that also sells online. They have a few locations within an hour of me, so I would absolutely try out the guitar and buy it in the store if I like it. I just want to see if a) it’s worth the drive there and back and b) if there are any hidden red flags that I won’t know by sitting with it for 15 minutes.
Hi Larry, it is definitely worth the drive, because it is so much fun to try out all the guitars, whatever you do. I have never tried the most recent year’s guitars. On the surface of it, I would not be interested in the new nut and the automatic tuning. But when I bought my Les Paul Studio Deluxe back in 2012, I was pretty happy with the quality, and it was in the $1000 range. It’s my first LP. I had tried various Epiphones around then, and I heard a distinct difference, which I assume comes from the pickups. I would suppose if you wanted to get a Gibson copy that did the job, Epiphone would be a poor choice, since Gibson clearly has to make a distinction (or everybody would buy Epiphones). I think the Epiphones have “photo” tops, and I guess for me that’s another cosmetic detail that’s not so important. It was the sound that I didn’t like.
Mostly I’m playing the LP with the band, although I mix it up on my recordings, going to the ES-335 and also my SG from my younger days. (And now starting to favor my old Stratocaster).
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, at least at the end of 2012, the Gibson quality was there for me.
I was looking for a Telecaster once so I went into a chain that no longer exists and started trying the Fenders…none of them sounded like a Telecaster. I had a PRS my old Westone Pantera x300 and the trusty old LP Jr. that I had been playing since I was a child but I was needing that sound of the old Tele a California friend had. I couldn’t find it in a Fender no matter how much I was willing to pay. So I tried a Peavey…Now, I couldn’t be seen playing a Peavey Reactor, even back when they were made in the USA. But I kept coming back to this Peavey. I tried other brands and they didn’t sound like an old Tele either and the Peavey didn’t exactly but it was close. I planned to re-pot the guitar with I meg pots and re-configure the tone control as a mid roll off and the price was right.
I walked out with the Peavey. Black paint, Maple neck…What are you going to do? It was the best sounding “Tele” in the store and it sounded much better after me and my tech got done with it. My Bass was built out of pieces of other Basses and it is a great Bass. Looks like it has been through a war but it is because it has. I love Gibsons but I like the old ones better. Like the ES-330 I sold for $225 back in '74…Just call me dummy.
Have you looked at what Carvin is putting out lately? My wife would kill me if I drug another guitar home. It had better be a “Rescue Guitar” if I do.
I bought a Les Paul '60s trubute last year for $1000. It is a truly fine guitar. It plays and sounds outstanding. I’ve owned a Les Paul Custom so I have a frame or reference. Where they cut corners was the thin finish, no binding and nut. I replaced the nut and, as I said it’s a fine instrument and I only paid 1K.
I am now playing 54 years. My mom bought me a Gretsch White Falcon used, in 1966 for $400.00 on her waitresses salary. It plays well but I have had L-5’s from the 1950’s, original LP’s in the late 1960’s, my most recent purchase, a new ES335 plays no differently after set up than any highly prized guitar I have had in the last 1/2 century. I still use a 1967 Fender Princeton reverb my dad bought for me, also used, in 1968 along with others.
I have noticed that the non amplified acoustic tone sound of the new Gibson is poor sounding and tinny. It’s nice believing that the heritage behind this guitar spans a broad legacy but my opinion is that the amp can color the sound so much that I see very little difference than this pricey instrument and my epiphone Joe Pass Emperor. I’m assuming the laser guided cutting and fitting just takes the individuality right out of it.
I don’t think there’s something out there without spending a retirement level income that I’d find so desirable.
I’d say that corporate work ethic is positively enlightened contrasted with … oh, let’s say China (especially the Chinese children building Apple devices). But then, I only have about 41 years experience working for corporations with that mindset. So, I might feel differently after another 10 years of it. Who knows?
Gibson hasn’t been making them “like they used to” for half a century.
Apart from the Norlin era, when Gibson made bodies the same way as Epiphone do today, with multiple pieces of unspecified mahogany, they’ve always been pretty well made and I’m sure they generally as good today as they always have been. The mahogany Gibson use (once known as British Honduras Mahogany), is still the main tonewood and comes from sustainable forests, so don’t let anyone tell you we’re running out of tonewood! The only downside is that it’s brittle, broken necks being the price we pay occasionally for “that” Gibson sound.
I think the automatic tuners idea is a mistake though…
For one just beware of pirate copies of any brand of guitar i think the only way you could tell is by some glaring mistake ,somebody once showed me a Zakk Wylde Gibson Les Paul ,i had a mess with the string height by adjusting the bridge and found that the action would not go low enough ,ive had a Les Paul before in the past and i know you could screw the bridge all the way down so the strings would sit on the neck ,unplayable of course but its your choice ,anyway the point being it was an obvious mistake.
another thing to beware of is, expensive guitars that have not had a final set up at the warehouse by good guitar techs or people who know how to make a guitar feel good before they leave the factory ,it should be a very important step especially by the likes of Gibson .any guitar is capable of feeling good (especially one which costs a grand) in the hands of a good tech. a guy at my local guitar shop sets some brands up in the shop because when they are sent to him they are not really playable in a comfortable way .id say if you especially like one but it dont quite feel right, ask the guy at the shop to have it set up . i thought you would have been capable. i once bought an acoustic under those circumstances and after i set it up, bingo.